While we at Rock City Eats tend to focus on the food scene here in central Arkansas, we’ve discovered plenty of great eats all around the state, too. Arkansas’ highways, byways, and small towns are ripe with numerous excellent restaurants, dairy bars, drive-ins, and bakeries of all sort. In this regular feature, we explore some of these places and encourage you to pull over and sample some of the greatest food from “Around Arkansas.” Next up, a small-town diner that serves up some of the largest burgers in the state … Morrilton Drive-Inn Restaurant.
If you want to hit the Drive-Inn before heading to Petit Jean for the day, you’ll have to go one exit past your usual get-off. Morrilton Drive-Inn Restaurant is just a couple of blocks south of Interstate 40 in an unassuming brick building with a massive red roof and (true to its name) a drive-up window for ordering on the go. It’s a popular stop with truckers because of its location near a truck stop, as well as its generous portions.
Morrilton Drive-Inn Restaurant has been around for decades. The Boyer family purchased the restaurant in the late 1990s and kept its country menu basically intact. Today, Morrilton Drive-Inn is a cultural hub for the city. At all hours of the day, you can find folks sharing the news over coffee during breakfast or watching the game at dinnertime. As for the name, the restaurant was apparently a drive-in at one point in its history, though nobody could tell me the reason for the curious spelling of “inn.”
There might be some who debate me on this, but I believe the number one reason to visit the Morrilton Drive-Inn Restaurant is its lineup of burgers. While the regular burger is a normal human-sized four ounces, the jumbo doubles that to eight ounces, and the super bests that with its one-pound heft. From there, diners can order the burger as a double or triple with various amounts of cheese, all the way up to the “triple super double cheese.” And lest you think these burgers are only there for the size gimmick, Morrilton Drive-Inn doesn’t skimp on the flavor. The burgers are thick, nicely seasoned and fresh tasting with a good, crisp texture from the flat-top.
Of course, burgers only tell part of the story. Many people I briefly chatted with raved about the catfish. The filets I saw coming out of the kitchen looked nicely cooked and (again) massive, and I could see how they might become a hit. Morrilton Drive-Inn also offers up foot-long hot dogs, Frito chili pies, meatloaf sandwiches and a BBQ baked potato. And if you’re an early riser, the breakfast menu boasts all the items you’d expect of a solid country diner.
People used to Little Rock restaurant prices will find Morrilton Drive-Inn a good bargain, with most dishes in the $4–$8 range (the largest monster burger will run you $20, but it will take four of you to eat it). Burgers do come a la carte, so fries and onion rings will cost you extra, but a typical meal won’t take more than $12 out of your bank account.
Restaurants like Morrilton Drive-Inn are what make small-town Arkansas so interesting. It’s a never-ending buzz of customers and country cooking where almost everybody knows everybody else. And with burgers that actually stand up in flavor to their own impressive size, Morrilton Drive-Inn Restaurant is worth a stop if you head west on I-40 anytime soon.
1601 Oak St. in Morrilton, just south of I-40
Drive: Just about an hour from Little Rock
Hours: 7 a.m. until 10 p.m. seven days a week.
Phone: (501) 354-8343